One year later, local family rebuilds what an EF-3 tornado tore down

Published: Apr. 17, 2020 at 7:45 PM EDT
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Many of us are slowly realizing what it's like to lose the things that are important to you. It's a lesson Larry and Delores Anderson learned in 20 seconds when a tornado destroyed their home.

A tattered American flag hoisted upon Windy Ridge Road went up the day Larry and Delores Anderson's house came down.

"It's been hard," Delores Anderson said Friday. "I don't think it's a day gone by that I haven't cried about losing but God was with me and I'm here. So we're gonna be okay."

April 19, 2019, Delores hid in their basement, while an EF-3 tornado tore its way through the ridge and right over her home. The moment it touched down is still etched in the ground, as deeply as it is within their memories. Mountain views in front of and behind their property are still scarred by downed trees.

"Our world was just changed in 20 seconds," she said. "But God was with us and he'll still be with us."

And also with them, are the neighbors and friends who rallied to get them closer than ever to coming back home.

"It's been a trying year but it's coming to an end, we're excited," she said with a smile.

For the last year, the Anderson's have been slowing rebuilding the place they've called home for 40 years. And it will be home again in just a few weeks.

The progress has been well documented on a Facebook group where friends and neighbors are rallying for its completion. But Delores Anderson said even complete strangers seem to find joy in their work to rebuild.

“We had a lady that came up yesterday, I wasn’t here but a lady came yesterday and my contractor said she got out and she started crying," Delores said, becoming emotional. "And she said, 'I needed to see some positive today.' She said, 'This world is so bad I just wanted to see some positive.' And she prayed.”

"Just makes you appreciate each day a whole lot more," said Larry Anderson, who was at work when the tornado hit. "Because you don't know what tomorrow might bring."

The tattered flag has been worn by a relentless wind on the aptly named street. The day they move in, it will come down. They plan to frame it and hang it in their new home. Now, weeks away from moving into their new home, they hope that flag and their tenacity can be a symbol of hope for the storms ahead.

"Don't take life for granted," Delores said. "Live your life, love your neighbor and give God the most."

Copyright 2020 WDBJ7. All rights reserved.

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